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Italian Easter Lunch Traditions

We asked four Italian chefs and restaurateurs, who now live and work in California, to share with us the recipes their mothers and grandmothers used to cook for Easter.

There is a saying in Italy: "Natale con i tuoi, Pasqua con chi vuoi!" which in English basically means Christmas with your family, Easter with whomever you want!

Nonetheless, big lunches take place all over the peninsula, where families and friends gather to celebrate and eat delicious food, rigorously homemade!

Menus change from region to region, with traditional dishes filled with memories and love, and infinite variations.

To give you an idea of typical Italian and regional Easter menus, we asked four Italian chefs and restaurateurs who now live and work in California, to share with us the recipes their mothers and grandmothers used to cook for this celebration.

Giacomo Pizzigoni

Co-owner and founder of Ambrogio15, Semola and Ciao Ciao Piadina in San Diego.

Born and raised in Milan, Giacomo used to eat as main course Lamb with potatoes. The lamb was marinated for 12 hours with garlic, oil and rosemary and then baked in the oven.

As side dishes of his childhood, there were also Torta Pasqualina (a pie made with puffy pastry and stuffed with vegetables) and salad with eggs made with hard-boiled eggs, mixed salad, asparagus and cherry tomatoes.

As a very young milanese boy, Giacomo was always asking for Cotoletta alla Milanese with oven roasted potatoes, even for the Easter lunch! The cotoletta has to rigorously be a breaded and then fried veal, usually called "orecchia di elefante" (elephant's ear) because of its huge shape.

Gianluca Le Grottaglie & Mattia Marcelli

Respectively owner and chef of 54Mint and Montesacro Pinseria Romana in San Francisco.

Gianluca and Mattia used to eat the Pizza di Pasqua or Easter pizza when they lived in Rome. This pizza is a leavened savory cake based on wheat flour, eggs, pecorino, and parmesan. Traditionally served at breakfast on Easter morning or as an appetizer during Easter lunch, it is accompanied by blessed boiled eggs, cured sausages and red wine.

Lamb with potatoes was the main course, and Gianluca and Mattia will serve it in their restaurant 54Mint.

To recall the Easter flavors, they will also serve, at La Pinseria, a crunchy white pinsa with potatoes and lamb sausage.

Kristyan D'angelo

Chef at Italico and Terun in Palo Alto.

Moving down to Sothern Italy, Kristyan D'angelo, born in Ginosa, a small town in the Puglia region, chef of Italico and Terun in Palo Alto, remembers his grandmother cooking the "cialledde" for Easter. The cialledde was a starter made with a mix of stale bread of the rustic Pugliese type, cut into chunks, moistened a bit, and seasoned with tomatoes, oregano, salt and extra virgin olive oil.

Capretto al forno con patate (baked baby goat with potatoes) was instead the main course.

Finally, a typical dessert of Kristyan's childhood was "i dormenti", sweet cinnamon buns flavored with lemon peel and cinnamon.

And this was just a bite of the numerous Italian Easter traditional menus!

Did you know some of these recipes? Which are your favorites?

Happy Easter!


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